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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

33 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

'The End of Faith' offers readers a different view on life, one that will open your eyes to a view of the world that has been veiled in denial for thousands of years

In short, 'The End of Faith' is a manuscript aimed at religion and its obovious flaws that humanity tends to overlook and/or disregard. Whether its the threat of religious tensions leading to nuclear holocaust or religion itself witholding us from getting closer to a m...
In short, 'The End of Faith' is a manuscript aimed at religion and its obovious flaws that humanity tends to overlook and/or disregard. Whether its the threat of religious tensions leading to nuclear holocaust or religion itself witholding us from getting closer to a more universal answer to life, humanity has constantly allowed religion to reign its 'necessary' wrongdoings in our world beacuse of its prejudice ways of life and greedy claims of 'the 'ONLY' answer to life.' Sam Harris has created something amazing, something epic and triumphant in the world of free-thinkers alike. I feel that this is one colossal, successful step towards TRUE freedom of religion. No longer will prejudice Christians or Cahtolics or Muslims and so forth restrain us from believing in what children are taught as blind, foolish beings who accept anything and grow under those influences. As Sam Harris says, 'Religions we consider sacred today are only sacred beacuse they were sacred yesterday.' What he means by this is that the only reason why religion is actually believeable in this modern world of ours is because day after day, generation after generation, one person's beliefs were passed down since the roots of humanity and religion. If any religion never existed in our lives or the lives of our forefathers then it can be guaranteed that if a religious belief were to suddenly be proposed in our age of society, it would quickly be dismissed as folly and ignorant. Only because we are taught such things as children or live around them throughout our lives explains why we even consider them real: because we are exposed to this fantastical, irrational state of mind when we're foolish enough to believe in such mindlessness. I am no atheist, or a Christian, or apart of any other religious cult. I believe in everything that makes sense in my mind. I DO NOT close my eyes to some beliefs and open them to others (as religion does repeatedly, only accepting scientific facts that support their beliefs while disregarding any that contradict them). I keep all senses keen to reality. I'm on a journey, like so many others, to find a peace of mind in which I can think of the day that I die and not be afraid of an eternity in hell simply for not believing in something that literally has not made one appearance on this planet, except in non-proven stories. I truly believe that humanity is simply learning another global lesson. As with racism and World Wars, among other mistakes humanity has commited, breaking from the shackles of religion and accepting all rational and fair( fair as in beliefs that don't hurt others) beliefs is another lesson we'll hopefully learn as soon as possible. Sadly, it seems that humans only learn their lesson when something horrible or significant happends. With racism it took the ignorance and prejudice beliefs of slave owners to finally, after hundreds of years, give african-americans the FAITH and strength needed to overcome the IGNORANT BELIEFS of racists. Same thing with the belief that women were lesser than men and deserved less rights. In World War II it took a nuclear explosion to Hiroshima to finally shock the faces of this world into regret and sudden realization of its errors. And now, as it seems so inevitable, the ignorant and closeminded beliefs of religious people who claim their beliefs as 'the one and only' are suffering the same mistakes that racists, those who oppose female equality, and the icons that shaped the major wars of our time endured. The only problem with this new lesson that humans are learning is that we may not survive the outcomes of such ignorant and rash ways of life.

posted by Anonymous on December 2, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Interesting but Highly Flawed

I picked up this book because I, too, believe that, by and large, organized religion is a scourge that has been more divisive than beneficial in the history of humankind, and I wanted to know what someone else had to say on the subject. Unfortunately, Sam Harris...
I picked up this book because I, too, believe that, by and large, organized religion is a scourge that has been more divisive than beneficial in the history of humankind, and I wanted to know what someone else had to say on the subject. Unfortunately, Sam Harris is as dogmatic and bombastic -- and often simplistic -- as many of the people he criticizes. His arguments, finally, are generally not persuasive because they are expressed in such concrete, absolute terms -- he is terribly convinced of his own 'rightness,' and he puts many questions to the reader that he then answers for him/her, without giving the reader a chance to come to his/her own conclusion. In short, he shoves his opinions -- often thinly disguised as facts -- down the reader's throat instead of taking the time and thought to present a full argument 'despite the many citations and the voluminous -- and often fascinating -- notes, which in the end are more about quantity than quality'. The prose is also laced through with a sarcasm that is funny but does not serve his argument well and that seems a substitute for greater intellectual rigor and objectivity. I wanted to admire this book, but it was impossible given his all-or- nothing stance. He also seems to use the words 'God' and 'religion' interchangeably. Whether one believes in God or not, the two terms represent very different things -- and the book's focus should have been the 'religion' of the title. Questions of 'God' are something different, as many who have spurned organized religion 'and violence' have maintained a belief in God -- the venerable and highly ethical George Eliot 'nee Maryann Evans' among them. Sam Harris is a good writer who knows how to keep his reader's attention. But this book, whose subject held so much promise, seems little more than a grad student's diatribe in the end -- prettily written, to be sure, but nowhere near as sophisticated as its author appears to believe.

posted by Anonymous on July 20, 2007

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  • Posted March 3, 2012

    Like reading a teen blogger.

    This book is hilarious. He rages against the machine like a 15 year old, and spends most of the time preaching to the converted. He rehashes familiar arguments utilizing enough caustic prose to make both sides chuckle. His theological illiteracy is embarrassing, but his delivery is entertaining. Buy this if you're already an atheist. But if you're looking for a thorough critique of religious systems, or an intelligent atheist apologetic, look elsewhere.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2011

    If your open minded enough to read this ...

    This was a wonderful book, made me feel like I wasn't alone in my thoughts. I'm going to download the next two books now...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2010

    Excellent

    Very enlightening and absorbing. Excellent book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    LOGICAL AND HOW COME MORE PEOPLE DON'T READ THIS?

    This book states quite succinctly precisely what I have come to believe.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    Possibly my all-time favoite book.

    Sam Harris says what we are thinking. Religious faith does not deserve any more respect than any other outrageous claim. In fact, because it is so dangerous and gets so many of us killed, it deserves LESS. If Joe Smith at the supermarket claimed that he was born of a virgin and healed people with his spit, you would not respect that. Why respect similar ridiculous claims? I anxiously await your next book, Sam.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2008

    Thank you Sam Harris

    Thank you for giving us a voice. I am an atheist. For years, all my life really, I've been afraid to say that. This book has helped me realize what it was that I was afraid of. It was not the imaginary man in the sky. It was the people who believe that frightened me most.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2007

    A reviewer

    How many of you really know about the faithful reason necessary to survive?? Many individuals depend on religion for the absolute reason to continue to exist 'a sort of reverse existentialism'. Therefore, it is necessary to see both points of view on the situation. At the moment, I only see hypocrites stating, reciting, and acknowledging the views of the faithful. The spectrum needs to show the other side.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2006

    Please come.

    I beg for the day when religion is cast from humanity. Hopefully Sam will plant this seed in the right mind. 'Wool should be obtained from the backs of the slain sheep'.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2007

    Disturbingly Spectacular

    If you can open your mind, this is a must read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2007

    Great, but get the latest release

    The most challenging and thoght provoking book I gave ever read. That said, get the later release (paperback if necessary) that has his 'Afterword'.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2006

    Leap of Faith Beyond the Smokescreen

    Beyond the smokescreen of Harris's vociferous, often sarcastic arguments against the literal belief and application of texts held sacred by religious believers, he takes a breathtaking leap of faith of his own that belies the title of his book. After arguing vehemently that all faith claims must be tried to the limit in the court of empirically-derived evidence, Harris proposes that we expose ourselves to a 'range of human experience...that surpasses our narrow identities as 'selves' and escape our current understanding of the mind and brain.' He asserts that it is possible to have insights into our own subjectivity using techniques such as meditation and the use of psychedelic drugs. Curiously, Harris still wants to assert that we can apply a 'truly rational approach' to the subjective dimension of our lives. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. In the West, our humanistic premises have brought us to the impasse of a total dichotomy between subjective and objective. We are divided, even in our own beings. Harris¿s sophisticated language and arguments create an impressive front for what is nothing more than an Eastern mystical leap of faith over this dichotomy. Can you imagine trying to scientifically analyze someone¿s acid trip or astral travel? These are to be experienced, not quantified, and constitute a departure from reason as a means to discovering what is genuine and true. Ironically, there is no 'future' for reason in the direction that Harris points. After his scathing dismissal of holy texts as worse than irrelevant and hopelessly passe in our modern progressive age, Harris¿s proposals seem antiquated, evoking a sad sense of déjà vu. With breathtaking dogmatism, Harris baldly states that ¿no human being has ever experienced an objective world, or even a world at all¿ (George Berkeley advocated a similar notion in the 18th Century). The conundrum for Harris is that, having advocated the extirpation of religious faith derived from literal interpretations of holy books, proposing instead a ¿rational¿ inquiry into subjective experiences, in the end, he has to escape from reason. Having denied his Creator and the verbal, propositional revelation given to us about the origin of the universe, he ultimately has no epistemological basis for even knowing that the physical world is real. What is disappointing is that Harris rides a high horse as he skewers anything faith-based that is not supported by his criterion of evidence, while ignoring his own stunning leap of faith into mysticisms that cannot be tested according to his own standard.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2006

    Harris's Ironic hypocrisy

    While I am thoroughly impressed with the rationality of End Of Faith,and agree ,for the most part, with the points,Harris topples his tower of reason on several levels.The fact that he vaguely touches on agnosticism is weird but after further analysis,I understand why.No great effort comes without an agenda. The first time I notice the inconsistancy in Harris's philosophy was near the beginning.Harris deliberately skirts any in-depth relationship between politics and religion(and the question of which was evil first).He fails to prove the much needed point to maintain his thesis that religion ,not politics,is the culprit. My second problem is related to the fact that Harris cannot avoid exposing his own political bias!Ironically,Harris ,despite his outrage with the historical horrors perpetrated due to religious convictions,somehow supports both the Iraq war and Bush himself(although he at least admits Bush 's use of religion to get votes was outrageous).I ask how can one write an entire book dedicated to rationality and (peace),yet support the Iraq war and the Bush administration (albeit subtly)?I am emmediately suspicious when I realize Harris is truly attemtping to pull off this hugely hypocritical circus act. How ironic is it indeed that Harris is both an atheist ,and a Bush supporter? It's not surprising at all.There is indeed an underlying agenda here.(to the right of reason believe me)I researched Harris after reading the book and learned he also supports to an extent,torture..(in particular cases so he claims)Don't believe me? Check out his own website.My conclusion to Harris's An End To Faith is that which many before me have already stated regarding this book.It is possible neoconservatives are not religious at all but simply clever manipulators and exploiters of human vulnerability.(they've even got the Christian fundmentalists under their thumb)We are pawns...and Harris only further exemplifies this fact.Is he a pawn or is he a political mastermind?End of Faith was never meant to be the start of Reason....just His reasons.We are back at square one.Next.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2005

    Making a religion of rationalism

    In attempting to discredit religion, Sam Harris succeeds only in making a 'religion' out of rationalism. He reduces human experience to what can be replicated/verified scientifically, and does not distinguish 'faith' from 'beliefs.' Although he does well in showing how science tries to unravel the 'mystery' in life, he fails miserably at understanding religion's struggle to honor the 'mystery.' He speaks only of religion at its worst--fundamentalist, extreme, arrogant--and seems closed to/ignorant of good religion, which seeks to understand the 'why' of the universe, making use not only of science, but also of art, music, human relationships, nature and other creative endeavors. We humans are not merely rational animals, but psychic and social as well. By focusing merely on the rational, Sam Harris dismisses an important part of the human experience and impoverishes his work.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2004

    Well written book that I disagree with

    A wonderful book from the point of view of a rationalist, yet an utterly barren and desolating point of view, which is all reason can give us without the consolation of faith

    1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    ... I dont know what to say

    The only religion that openly glorifies war is islam.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2014

    Perfect book.  I love it.  I will read it again.  Sam Harris is

    Perfect book.  I love it.  I will read it again.  Sam Harris is so, "to the point."  He puts my feelings into words.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Excellent

    Everyone should (have the courage to) read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2013

    This book was extremely influential during the rethinking of my

    This book was extremely influential during the rethinking of my world view.  I was an ordained minister and after many years of intensely studying the Bible and Judeo-Christian faith, I found I simply did not believe their "story."  This is much like how a Christian feels about the Koran and Allah or a Muslim feels about the Bhagavad Gita and Brahman.  “End of Faith” addresses many of these questionable and irreconcilable topics that many ministers are aware of but refuse to address or even admit to doubting.  Sam Harris has an amazing ability to state complex ideas in a simple, easy to understand way.  I recommend this book to people who are seeking truth and not just looking for a book to reinforce their current beliefs.  To people who “know” the truth already, I encourage you to buy a different book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Reason devolves into mysticism

    This book started out as one of the best I have ever read on the subject of secular reasoning in the face of religious dogmatism, but in the last twenty pages or so it devolved into mysticism and an almost passive-aggressive apologist stance. Strong start, weak finish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012

    Spectacular

    Absolutely a must read for anyone who has issues with the role religion plays in the world today. Simply an extremely logical, well thought out, researched and written book. I could not recommend more highly. I loan the paperback version of this to people constantly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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